Three Wise Men and the Future of Telecom

I have just been asked to moderate a Round Table at the Voice 2.0 conference in Ottawa next Monday; Topic: the Future Visions for Telecom. Recently there have appeared three posts that provide a foundation for discussion of the subject:

First, James Enck, a highly respected telecom analyst and blogger, based in London, posted details of his keynote presentation last week, Ten Things I Hate About You, at Telco 2.0 in London James has developed a strategic framework around which he sees the future of telecom:

  • Telcos have lost control of their core product
  • Voice is becoming a feature, not a service
  • Telcos can’t grasp that consumers may not want what they’re being sold
  • Telcos thrive on scarcity – future value will be built around abundance
  • Command and control culture is dead, open API’s rule
  • Telco DNA is fundamentally unsuited to the current dynamics of content
  • Telcos expand their footprints physically, not virtually
  • Telcos can’t innovate
  • Telcos shouldn’t try to innovate
  • Maybe the entire foundation is wrong

Definitely a landmark post. So what should the foundation of telecom become? Alec Saunders presents a first anniversary update on his Voice 2.0 Manifesto:

The customer experience predicted by the Voice 2.0 Manifesto is not of a single carrier, but rather of three classes of entities – access, directory, and applications. As a customer, you’ll pay to be part of the network, you may pay for an identity (and this is an idea who’s time will come, although it’s hard to see today), and you’ll pay for applications that that help you communicate in a diverse number of ways. This is a very different model from the traditional, vertically integrated, communications network.

Alec builds cases around several of James’ statements; for instance:

  • Unsurprisingly, the biggest stumbling block to the Voice 2.0 vision is the incumbent service provider. Not only do these folks move at glacial speeds, but most regard the Voice 2.0 model as a threat, rather than an opportunity.
  • In a Voice 2.0 world, control is with the customer. I buy the services I want, from whom I want.

Finally Robert Young at GigaOM has written a definitive post on the role of communications embedded into social network infrastructures stating that “communications ultimately serves as the anchor feature and the driver of retention and growth”. Robert concludes with:

Social networks, which are rapidly becoming the portals of the next generation, must place high strategic priority on their communications functionality if they wish to continue their pace of traffic growth, usage, and retention.

Three “primer” posts that serve to help us understand the opportunities provided in a Voice 2.0 world. And provide a framework for assessing where the voice communications space will evolve as Skype, AIM Phoneline and similar services become integrated into Web 2.0 and mobile communications offerings. Yesterday Malcolm Geddes (who will be on the panel) summed it up in posting his thought for the day:

Exercise for the reader: is it possible to transition an institution from control to co-creation of value, or can you only build such edifices on greenfield sites? Or to be more blunt and specific, does the journey from Telco 1.0 to Telco 2.0 on average require the capital and goodwill to be split apart and re-cycled via the bankruptcy courts or distressed asset sales?

Update: James was taken aback by the widespread response to publishing his bullets.

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About Jim Courtney

Bringing over thirty years' experience in the sales, marketing and management of cutting edge technology businesses.

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